Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dirty jobs

Yes, life is certainly going on again back here.

Yesterday, much as he hated to leave me with a broken washer, my husband Dennis had to leave for another short business trip. When I saw that our calendar showed the evening free, I had visions of coasting dreamily along (albeit in our dirty clothes) until he got home. Surely, things will go more smoothly than the last time he left, when I had to deal with a plumbing emergency.

Things started out well, until after supper. Supper’s just not the same without Dad, anyway, and I suppose having leftovers was not the best thing to promote unity and harmony among the brethren. The big kids got into some dispute that left one crying and two cleaning up the kitchen for a week. It is at times like these that I am certain I am ruining my children for life, not because I force them to eat leftovers, but because there is nothing that upsets me more than when they are awful to each other, and unrepentant at that. You’d think that in light of our glimpse of eternity this week, things would be better for a nanosecond longer than usual, but, alas, here we find ourselves, once again. I remind myself conflict is good, so we can deal with what's going on in their hearts. Yes, that's it. Maybe I should make it two weeks…

Anyway, the tension in the house was not made better by Annie (6) singing opera in the bathtub (wondering why I couldn’t understand the ever-increasing volume of her resonating song-request to use some shaving cream), nor by Ruthie (3), who was following Neal (12) around, accusing him of decapitating her favorite Barbie. (Thith one’th my thpecial one, Neal! You wrecked it!”). No amount of cajoling could remind her that it was already broken, and Neal’s only fault was that he could not make it better when she brought it to him to fix.

It wasn’t long before I heard screaming from upstairs. Now, I am used to hearing screams. I tune most of them out: the “she’s not sharing” scream, or the “there’s a bug on my wall” screams. This one however, was a serious, “there’s blood” scream. I dropped the Barbie head and came running.

The collaborators in post-dinner strife had been banished to various parts of the house as far away from each other (and me) as possible. Libby’s (9) banishment included taking a shower upstairs. Prior to her shower, she had decided to take a load off (literally) and, by the time I got there, the toilet was just seconds from overflowing. Especially considering this was an upstairs bathroom, I was proud of her choosing a very good reason to scream.

I reached down, carefully avoiding the bowl, turned the water off to the tank, and surveyed the situation. Not good. Not good at all. Where is a man around when you need one to plunge fetid water from the commode?

Suddenly the tension was broken, as Libby ran to fetch the plunger. “I’ll get it, Mom! Mom, can I try, can I try? Mom, I know I can do this. I just want to help you, Mom. This looks like fun! I love doing this!”


God bless her, but her machine-gun style enthusiasm for such an enterprise was mowing me over almost as much as the odor coming from the bowl. “Do. Not. Touch. The. Plunger,” was all I managed to choke out, holding my nose and wishing for an OSHA-approved, nuclear-warhead-resistant body suit. Am I having an out-of-the-body experience, or can it be possible that I am trying out for a spot on Dirty Jobs?

It took several minutes of plunging to free the pipe of its obstruction, and by this time Libby and I were joined by the two little ones, squeaky clean from their baths, wanting to get in on the action. “Not this time, girls. This is a Mommy job.” Well, technically, it’s a Daddy job, but we’ll not go into that right now. I’m sure the airborne bacteria from the encounter was enough to warrant another bath, but at this point, it was close to nine o’clock and I was just glad they did not touch the plunger. At least not while I was looking.

By bedtime, everyone was in much better spirits, the plunger was out of children’s reach, and the angst of the supper hour was forgotten, mostly, and forgiven, completely. Only a small scuffle broke out about who gets to sleep in Mom’s bed while Dad’s gone. I drew names and wrote it down on the calendar this time so I can remember for next time.

Whew. I thought cleaning up Drano-water and bailing soap-water out of the washer might have been enough to show Dennis how much I love him – even when he’s gone - but this more than proves it, don’t you think?

And by the way, the washing machine repairman is coming again this afternoon (he’d better fix it THIS time!), which is good, since Ruthie (3) woke up to a wet bed again (is there a pattern here?). Did I mention I love my life??

So far this morning (besides the wet bed), the only mishap has been that the dog ate someone's toast off the table, and then ate an entire package of cheese, which I accidentally left out when I took the kids to school. Let's just pray that does not lead to another kind of plumbing emergency.

Come home soon, Honey!


Andrea said...

Ok, I feel better knowing my household is just as crazy as yours. *smile*

Katherine's husband--come home!!

Carla said...

Ah, the brethren!! How come my four feel so much like your five?? Hang in there for hubby.

fAiThFuL cHiCk said...

Some days I feel like a referee around here. Glad to know I am not the only one.

That washer needs an exorcism.

Take care...

Susanne said...

Boy, nothing like being "plunged" right back into the nitty gritty of everyday life! ;v)

Anonymous said...

Oh Katherine.
I just read the news
:( I am very sorry for your loss. Please Stay Strong and know in your heart of hearts that he is sitting up there with Jesus having a good laugh. He may be also having a beer :)

The washing machine--Sorry. Can't live with them but we certainly can't live without them.

My son 15 is getting his learners permit today. He is sooo excited. Daddy has told him he will be learning to drive in my car as daddy has a 2 seater sportscar.

After reading your news I am going to have to really sit back and take a very deep breath and relese it and remember to let go. Damn am I really this old?

My 2 get plunger happy also. Sometimes I have to firmly yank it out of their hands and say I GOT IT! Now EAT YOUR VEGETABLES!

Made you laugh :)
You stay strong! Stay STRONG! We live in a world where there is a plan. Remember that God's plan is not always our plan.

Lisa said...

Thanks for a glimpse into your home. You are not alone...sometimes when dad's gone I fell like they conspire against me!
Thank you for starting my day out with this funny story!
And the names on the calendar...great idea! I'm going to remember that one as whose 'turn' it is to sleep with me is always a huge source of contention aruond here when dad's away.

Nicole said...

If I did not regularly experience this kind of madness...I would think you were making it all up just to make us laugh! I mean THAT was some serious craziness!
I pray for peace, an extra measure of grace as you do TWO jobs and for a speedy return of your man!

Beck said...

I think the chaos of life is often a good thing - it helps us through the hard times. And I also think that your husband needs to come home!

Ginger said...

Thank you for the glimpse into your world - I feel your pain! I think it's Murphy's law that things go awry once Dad has 'left the building.' Persevere!!! Romans 5:3-4 You will be so full of character at the rate you're going. :)

Julie said...

I am very impressed you and the girls took care of the toilet situation. I must admit I might just have closed the door, left the mess for hubby, and told everyone to use the other two bathrooms.

I know disgusting. But I really hate dealing with the toilet.

Hope your washer is finally fixed today.

Kellan said...

The was pitiful and funny. Thanks for the laugh.

Rhonda said...

Ahhh, my husband too travels plenty with his career and it never fails that is when one of the major appliances go out or one of my FIVE kids (can you believe we have five kids?) gets super sick! Or, a trip to the ER. Thanks for the great blog.

A little FYI... you are in my prayers today and will be tonight!

Mary@notbefore7 said...

"Conflict is good so you can see their hearts" Wow - deep thought in the middle of what was a humorous post for me. (perhaps not as humorous living it though...)

Hope you make it till the hubs is home!

Kate said...

Oh this is my life! This is my life exactly. I wonder if your Dennis and my Stuart meet each other on the road.

I laughed until there were tears running down my cheeks and the children were saying "What Mama? What's so funny?" (Yes it's 10:30 and they're all still up.)


Anonymous said...

Talk about real life drama!

Code Yellow Mom said...

my 4yo loves to watch "Dirty Jobs" with his dad. and play with the plunger. bad combo. :)

very fun gotta love the chaos, huh?

P.S. I like the "conflict is good" theory...I've missed your wisdom as I haven't been reading around too much in the last few months. You still inspire me and give me great food for thought. Thanks!

Sherri@NoiseOverload said...


Thanks for keeping it real (again). We love "Dirty Jobs" and TiVo it regularly.

Jen said...

I have sent off for your application for Dirty Jobs...LOL....I read this to myself and re read it to Scott...we have been rolling.....the cheese and toast thing is so me.....I love reading your blog.